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Sinclaire Sparkman: And….Go!

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Jul 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM

The release of Pokémon Go has sparked something very special in the world. Not only is it just freaking cool to be able to walk outside and catch pokémon in the ‘real world’, this is a big step in the advancement of the human race, and its also turning around some of the old stigmas on gamers, such as the whole ‘they’re lazy and introverted’ stereotype. 

The first thing I thought about when considering how this game will affect the lives of everyone was the physical activity that it takes to play the game. Basically, you have to be walking to play. You can’t sit on your couch and eat chips while searching the world for creatures to capture. Seriously though, I almost tripped while going after a Tauros because there was a step down on the sidewalk, and I consider myself to be an observant individual. Please, don’t get hit by a car while playing this game, and be aware of your surroundings. 

Unlike most mobile app games, Pokémon Go does not ask you to share your accomplishments or give you stuff for inviting friends to play the game. Your avatar is actually pretty alone in the game world except for encountering pokémon. There is barely any social interaction through the game itself, but if someone is walking along engrossed in their phone, stopping randomly, celebrating then moving on, it’s pretty clear what they’re up to, and users are responding to each other because of the common ground created by playing this game. 

Oh, and here’s the big one: outside of getting gamers out of the house and socializing with one another, this game is bringing augmented reality into the mainstream. This game exists over the whole world. The user is taken into a reality that is based on their actual location. Using GPS, players are walking around in a world where pokémon appear based on their real surroundings. If the player is near water, then a water-based pokémon is likely to appear. If the player is searching at night, then they are going to be more nocturnal creatures roaming about. Once a pokémon is found users are then able to capture the creatures by flicking pokéballs at it. These pokémon don’t just appear over the map though, they actually appear to be in the user’s surroundings by placing a moving image of the pokémon over whatever the phone’s camera is picking up. This is called augmented reality. 

This is not the first augmented reality game, but I bet you’ve heard that term a lot more since the game was released earlier this month. The implications for this go way beyond gaming; augmented reality could be applied in construction work, communication and even grocery shopping. 

So the game is bringing a lot of positive impact, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing to ever be dropped onto a mobile platform. There’s still a long way to go for actual gameplay. Walking around catching Pokémon is pretty much all you do besides battling at the pokégym. And I’ve heard some of some cases of people luring players to a place in hopes of getting cool in-game stuff, and then these players got robbed in real life. There’s also the issue of wandering around in strange places, trespassing and just plain not paying attention to surroundings. Basically, it’s like anything else in this world, don’t be stupid and you should be fine. 

Nintendo has always been a bit different when it comes to gaming brands. Their style consists of a lot of player interaction (four player systems) and a more family-friendly feel to games. Nintendo doesn’t hinge on violence, great graphics or an overload of gaming power. Nintendo keeps it simple, which has its own appeal. You don’t expect a lot of gore or the normal feel of an Xbox and Playstation game. Nintendo’s brand hinges on its uniqueness, bringing innovation and trying new things in the world of gaming, which has kept it a viable player all these years. This game is no different. 

Get ready for a whole new world, brought to you by augmented reality, both in gaming and everyday life.

Sinclaire Sparkman is The Democrat’s news editor. Email her at ssparkman@lebanondemocrat.com and follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports. 

 

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